Suggestions on Fleet Design

Love the concept and execution behind this game so far.

There are a couple thoughts I have after playing the game. Right now, the game seems to play like a more complicated version of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Certain strategies trump other strategies when building a fleet. Each stage or challenge often feels like trying to identify the enemy strategy and then building a fleet that exploits its weakness.

This tends to lead to really boring fleets. Often they are made of only 1 or 2 types of ships specifically designed to defeat the enemy. It could be a fighter swarm, a frigate swarm with short range weapons, lots of long range cruisers, etc… There is little incentive to build a “balanced” fleet, as they are often weaker.

Even when designing ships, the incentive is to specialize in a specific type of weapon, or shields, or armor, or speed. This makes ship design less interesting, as you tend to focus on specific factors only. Slow cruisers often don’t matter, so engine choice is a non-factor. Armor on fighters is often less useful then speed, so more engines are added instead.

Last, there is no attachment to a fleet, each battle you tend to discard the old fleet; your previous decisions in the game never matter in the next mission. There is no cost to losing a ship, or choosing a specific design.

A couple suggestions:

Make ‘well-rounded” designs more viable. Both for individual ships, and in fleet composition.

There is already a concept of diminishing returns when you have multiple shields or repair units. That idea could be carried into weapons and armor. There are enough choices in weaponry that long-range, or short range vessels would still be easy to make, but it wouldn’t all be the same.

It would be interesting if the campaign was about building up a fleet that you added to or replaced ships in, as the game went on. This would make it much more difficult to build a specialized fleet for each circumstance. Ships or crews could gain experience. Allowing ship captains to grow or specialize would also be cool. Right now the crew and pilot resources are completely generic. Specialized crews could provide more choices when building a fleet. And provide consequences when they were lost in a battle. At the very least being able to make certain ships experienced or veteran so they performed better.

This is why GSB needs an integrated tournament system: if you can’t tailor your fleet to one specific matchup, then you’re forced to build more (but not too much so) well-rounded fleets. Yes, there are some single-design (frigate) swarms in the tournament fleets, but they’re a calculated risk. Most of the winning tournament fleets posted can handle a lot of different enemy fleet types.

Making more differentiated modules would also help in my opinion. Currently, all of the engines we have basically produce thrust and consume power and crew - almost the same amount of power and crew per thrust, so you buy the biggest you can afford.

The single exceptions to these are the Supercharged Engine and the Efficient Engine for cruisers, but I don’t think they’re different enough. If all classes had these sorts of tradeoffs to make with their engines, then ships might start becoming a little more different. Maybe a solar sail engine with 1 hp, low thrust, but also costing no power and almost no crew, compared to some sort of massive power drain engine that generates tons of thrust, or a crewless droid-run engine that takes more power and is heavier. Reinforced engines with more HP, or even granting some moderate armour.

This is only the sorts of things you could do with armour. Many modules could have versions that also do some other function, or at least need less of the “requirement” - powered armour is one thing that does this, but you could also make Emitting Armour, that generates a small shield shell as well as being passable armour (but would cost a lot more power), self-regenerating armour, there are all sorts of possibilities.

The new Survival mode should help this: you don’t know what enemy is coming next, only that there’s a never-ending stream of enemies and you need to stay alive as long as possible. This definitely requires a well-rounded fleet that can both take a beating, repair itself, and kill the enemy without being overrun.

Need repair capability for frigates and fighters!